Dow Polyurethanes, a business unit of The Dow Chemical Company, announced that it plans to further invest in Europe by expanding capacity at two of its facilities over the next two years. The company plans to increase name-plate capacity at its polyols plant in Terneuzen, The Netherlands, by 180 kilotons per annum (KTA), and at its propylene glycol (PG) facility in Stade, Germany, by 80 KTA.
In September 2006, Dow announced plans to construct a Dow/BASF hydrogen peroxide-to-propylene oxide (HPPO) facility at Antwerp, Belgium, scheduled for start-up in 2008. Dow also completed a 40 KTA expansion of its propylene oxide (PO) name-plate capacity at Stade in January of this year, bringing its total PO capacity at the plant to 630 KTA. PO is a key raw material used in the production of both propylene glycol and polyols.
According to Dow Polyurethanes business president, Pat Dawson, the investments are driven by strong customer demand for polyurethane and propylene glycol end-use products in the region, and support Dow’s plans to further grow its Performance businesses. “Dow is committed to providing our customers with a reliable supply of PG and polyurethane raw materials, using the most economic and technologically advanced processes, as evidenced by our investment in the new HPPO facility at Antwerp,” said Dawson. “Demand for downstream products that rely on PG and polyols is expected to remain strong, and we are making these investments now to ensure that we continue to be the preferred supplier to our customers well into the future.”
The European propylene glycol industry is growing at the rate of 3 percent per year on average, driven primarily by strong demand from end-use applications, including unsaturated polyester resins (UPR), food, feed, cosmetics, anti-freeze and aircraft deicing fluids. Growth for polyols, which are used in the manufacture of polyurethane systems formulations and rigid and flexible foams, is also healthy in Europe and is expected to grow at the rate of 5 to 6 percent per year on average, driven by strong demand in the automotive, construction and home furnishing industries.
Dow Polyols Expansion at Terneuzen
Dow recently completed a year-long feasibility study to evaluate the expansion of all polyol product lines at its existing facility at Terneuzen. Based on the results of that evaluation, the company will expand polyols name-plate capacity at the site by 180 KTA.
Global demand for polyols continues to rise as the use of rigid, flexible and molded foam products, as well as formulated systems— particularly in automotive, appliance, bedding and furniture applications— continues to grow. Propylene oxide sourced from the under-construction HPPO plant at Antwerp will provide the needed additional feedstock for the polyols capacity increase that will supply Dow’s European customers.
Increase in Dow PG Capacity at Stade
Dow has implemented an incremental, world-scale capacity increase at its propylene glycol (PG) manufacturing facility at Stade, Germany. The project, which was completed in 2007, increased capacity at the facility from 190 KTA to 225 KTA. A second expansion project, which will be completed in 2009, will add another 45 KTA of PG capacity to the plant. By year-end 2009, PG capacity at the site will total 270 KTA, making Dow’s Stade plant the world’s largest PG facility. “Europe is a critical region for us and our back-integration in raw materials for polyurethanes and propylene glycol is essential to our ability to continue to grow our Performance products and maintain our strong business discipline so we can be there for our customers over the long-term,” said Dawson. “The expansion of our Terneuzen and Stade facilities, as well as the start-up of the HPPO Antwerp facility, is part of our integrated approach to meeting the growing and dynamic end-use application demand.”